Iraq needs nearly $90 billion to rebuild after three years of war with the Islamic State group, officials said Monday, with large parts of the country in ruins and tens of thousands left homeless. As a three-day international reconstruction conference got underway in Kuwait, officials were seeking pledges from donors and investors to restore Iraq’s devastated homes, schools, hospitals and economic infrastructure. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was joining the conference after holding talks on Monday in Cairo where he launched his latest Middle East tour.
The State Department has said it will not be making “direct contributions” to finance the reconstruction efforts but that over 150 American companies would travel to Kuwait as part of its private sector drive for the conference. Baghdad declared victory against IS in December, after Iraqi forces, backed by a US-led coalition, regained control of the large parts of the country seized by the jihadist group in mid-2014. Aid groups made pledges of $330 million on the first day of the conference, but officials said much more was needed.
Planning Minister Salman al-Jumaili said an assessment by Iraqi and international experts put reconstruction costs at $88.2 billion (71.8 billion euros). “The funds will be initially used to reintegrate displaced people and also for rebuilding the infrastructure of public services,” the minister told AFP. Mustafa al-Hiti, the head of Iraq’s reconstruction fund, said some work had started but that funds were needed urgently to restore basic infrastructure and services in many provinces.
“What we have accomplished is less than one percent of what Iraq needs,” Hiti said. “We have more than 138,000 houses damaged, more than half this number completely destroyed,” Hiti said, adding that more than 2.5 million Iraqis are still displaced. After suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of IS, Iraqi forces regrouped with foreign help, eventually forcing the jihadists out of its territory including second city Mosul. But the fightback left much of the country devastated. In Mosul, entire city blocks were reduced to rubble.
The IS takeover also dealt a heavy blow to Iraq’s economy. The country sits on some of the world’s largest crude reserves, which Baghdad puts at 153 billion barrels, but the war and a slump in world prices have diminished its oil revenues. Raja Rehan Arshad of the World Bank said investment is required across sectors, with more than $17.4 billion needed for housing alone. Nearly $30 billion is needed to restore energy and industrial infrastructure, he said. The conference brings together hundreds of representatives of countries, aid groups, UN agencies and corporations.
NGOs pledge $330m
A total of $330.130 million is the total amount of pledges announced at the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Conference to Support the Humanitarian Situation in Iraq, to be concluded later Monday. The Conference convened with the attendance of Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al- Hamad Al-Sabah.
The pledges came out as follows: Kuwait: Zakat House and the Awqaf General Secretariat ($35 million), Salam Charity Society ($15 million), Islamic International Charity Organization ($10 million), Kuwaiti Aid Society ($10 million), Najat Charity ($10 million), Direct Aid Society ($10 million), Al Eslah Society ($10 million), Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage ($10 million), Abdullah Al-Nouri Society ($5 million), Patients Helping Fund Society ($5 million), Red Crescent Society ($2.5 million). International: International Committee of the Red Cross ($130 million in programs), Human Appeal of the UK ($30 million), Qatari Education Above All Foundation ($13.5 million), Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency ($10 million), United Iraqi Medical Society ($5.1 million), Qatar Charity ($5 million) French charity ($4 million) Islamic Relief of the UK ($4 million) Muslim World League ($2.7 million). In addition to $4 million from a French Muslim society and another $4 million from an Iraqi organization.
Participants in the conference to support the humanitarian situation in Iraq recommended meanwhile to implement humanitarian and development programs, worth 335 million dollars, in Iraqi areas affected by armed conflicts. In their final communique, participants emphasized on the need to have such programs distributed in areas of health, shelter, education, rehabilitation and other humanitarian fields, stressing on the need to respond to the humanitarian situation in Iraq, particularly in affected areas.
SOURCE : ARABTIMES